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Metra touts GPS Center, winter prep work

The Metra Electric desk in the railroad's GPS Center monitors a phone and video system unique to that line.
Photo – Metra

Metra earlier this week offered a media tour of its GPS Center to demonstrate how the railroad communicates with riders.

Located at Metra's headquarters in downtown Chicago, the GPS Center is where platform announcements, website updates, email alerts and most service tweets originate, Metra officials said in a press release.

At the center, the railroad's communication specialists can monitor the position and timeliness of all trains and alert passengers about delays disruptions and other service issues.

"Our GPS Center is the heart of our communication efforts," said Metra Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Director Don Orseno. "Of course, we strive to operate all of our trains on time, but when they run behind due to weather or others reasons, we also strive to communicate those delays in a timely and accurate manner."

In 2018, Metra will be working on a major upgrade to its GPS technology to help better communicate with riders about delays.

Meanwhile, the railroad outlined the steps it takes to help mitigate the impact of winter weather on its operations. Each year, Metra inspects and tests 463 mainline switches along the Milwaukee District North and West, Metra Electric, Rock Island and SouthWest Service lines.

In addition, the railroad tests nozzles on 275 hot-air switch heaters; inspects snow and ice shields on 73 switches; and checks doors on older cars for defects, worn guides and corrosion.

Metra also inspects and tests three cold-air blowers and five hot-air jet blowers to clear its largest and most critical yards. The truck-mounted cold-air blowers clear ice and snow with a 525-mph blast, agency officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/7/2017